Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tarnished Empire (Dark Shores, #0.5)” as Want to Read:
Tarnished Empire (Dark Shores, #0.5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tarnished Empire

(Dark Shores #0.5)

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  146 reviews
A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory.


Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an oppressor.


Agrippa sets his sig
Paperback, 308 pages
Published January 26th 2021
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tarnished Empire, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Danielle Jensen Yes! You can absolutely read it first if you'd like, but you definitely want to read it prior to reading GILDED SERPENT, which is book 3 of the main s…moreYes! You can absolutely read it first if you'd like, but you definitely want to read it prior to reading GILDED SERPENT, which is book 3 of the main series!(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  435 ratings  ·  146 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tarnished Empire (Dark Shores, #0.5)
Mar 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
im more of a killian girl myself, so i was bummed this prequel focuses on marcus instead. but i completely understand why.

the 37th legion has always been famous in the dark shores books, so its fun to get a firsthand account of the event that created their notoriety. i also enjoyed agrippa - hes a wonderful character for comic relief. this book does a great job at showcasing his connection to marcus, which readers will want for ‘gilded serpent.’

and while this story is enjoyable, its just suc
Danielle Jensen
Jan 01, 2021 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to use this space to give you a few details about this novel.

Subscribe to my newsletter to read the first 8 chapters for FREE!

Book Trailer

Reviewers say it gives them the same vibes as Spartacus, 300, Troy, Gladiator, and The Song of Achilles

1. It is a full length young adult NOVEL at 70k words, although it is shorter than most of the novels I write. But is most definitely NOT A NOVELLA.

2. It takes place
Helena Paris
I received this complimentary ARC, courtesy of Danielle L Jensen, in exchange for an honest review.


For anyone who's wondering what the reading order is for this series:
- you can read Tarnished Empire
- you can read Dark Shores
- you can read Dark Skies in any order

In comparison to other prequels that I’ve read, this is more than a novella with over 200 pages of Ancient Roman perfection, so it's actually more of a companion novel. <3 Un
Mar 19, 2021 rated it liked it

Tarnished Empire is a prequel installment to Danielle L. Jensen's Dark Shores series.

Released in January of 2021, this story was just what I needed to tide me over until Gilded Serpent, the third book in the series, was released. It was oh, so satisfying.

In this story, we learn more about the notorious 37th Legion, which Marcus leads as Commander. If you have read Dark Shores, you should be well acquainted with him.

You may recall Marcus as being a smart, powerful and fair leader. I
Lucie V.
✅ Roman inspired
✅ Main character (Agrippa)
✅ Banter/humor
✅ Fighting and strategies
🆗 Romance/love interest

This is more a novella than a prequel. It is also described as being a "Marcus prequel", but it's honestly more about Agrippa, but it's okay because I adored him.

You can read Tarnished Empire before or after reading Dark Shores and Dark Skies, but I would definitely recommend reading it before Gilded Serpent (view spoiler).
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Trust me when I say that a legion camp is more gossipy than a brothel, especially a camp sitting on its laurels. When we get bored we cause drama for the sake of entertainment."

Tarnished Empire takes place before Dark Shores, during one of their earlier conquests in Bardeen. Perfectly paced and layered, it kind of has it all. With my man Marcus gracing the cover and only 200+ pages, this short tale is told from 3 POV's and it's packed with politics, jealousy, betrayal, humor and loss.

I love the
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! Dark Shores by, Danielle Jensen makes so much more sense with this Prequel/Novella. After reading Dark Shores, I felt like I needed some backstory, and Tarnished Empire fills in the gaps that were missing from the first book. If you like stories of ancient Rome, forbidden romance, and legionnaires fighting to survive a ruthless Senate..look no further.

This book leaves you wanting more! The pacing is fast and action packed. The romance is so good and heartbreaking. I'm definitely tea
Sowmya (bookishelflife)
And my friends that’s how it’s done- Danielle Jenson is the master of her skill and this is another perfect example, detailed review to come ❤️

Tarnished empire is another peek into the massive Dark Shores world that Danielle has graciously blessed us with. It happens before dark shores but don't let that take you a step back from this because the book falls nothing short of its successors, if you loved Marcus from Dark Shores this is your chance to see him and learn more about him as he starts h
The second time I’m writing this review because Goodreads ate the first review I tried to post. And spent 30 min writing. I was really proud of it too UGHHHHH. Trying again.

“Glory always had a price.”

Tarnished Empire is easily one of my new favorite DLJ books, and easily my favorite book of the Dark Shores world. Though significantly shorter than her other works, Tarnished Empire packs sooo much goodness into every single page. Filled with action, romance, humor, conflict...Tarnished Empire
Troy meets gladiator and 300 in this awesome new addition to the dark shores series. This was such a great read!

I Loved reading all three pov’s and there’s yet again a fantastic balance regarding (among other things) politics, storyline development, character development and romance. And then there’s also Danielle’s addictive and impeccable writing style of course, which is just the icing to the cake and makes it an unputdownable read from beginning till end.

Cant wait to now do a reread of dar
Richel (letsreadshallwe)
“What good is proof when the culprit is judge and jury?”

Hail to the queen because Danielle L Jensen just played with my feelings again and I’m not even mad about it.

Set in the world of Dark Shores, Tarnished Empire is another masterpiece that I thoroughly enjoyed reading from the beginning till end. I am #TeamMarcus through and through however, the introduction of a new character in this world inspired by Ancient Rome made me question my loyalty.

This book made me laugh so much from the first f
Victoria BookLover
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing

That’s it.

That’s the review.

I’m lying 🤣. But Jesus Christ if I don’t worship the ground he walks on...that man is perfection.

So anyways a little backstory, I’ve only read Dark Shores and I did like it....but I did NOT care about Marcus one bit. Knowing this was party focused on Marcus is what made me a little less interested to pick this up, but then I looked at the gorgeous art Gabi did for Agrippa and I was...I was at his mercy 🤣.

So when I went into this I was a bit frustrated because
Jessica Turner
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

If you, like me, became enamoured with everything Roman when your grade 5 class talked about the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain, then you NEED the Dark Shores series on your bookshelf.

This is a prequel novel that follows Marcus, The Commander of the Thirty-Seventh Legion, a fierce and hardened group of men, raised from childhood to be the fearsome fist of the Empire. We also meet Agrippa, a soldier in Marcus' legion with a snarky tongue and loyal to all ends, and
Bradley (AudioShelf)
First and for most, I want to thank Danielle L. Jensen & Literary Bound Book Tours for sending me a copy of Tarnished Empire in exchange for an honest review.

I’m going to start off by saying that I truly believe Jensen is one hell of an imaginative writer. The way she intertwines her stories and her characters is admirable.

Speaking of characters, I love the three perspectives in TE. Marcus is obviously my favorite as he is a freaking dreamboat. Marcus is such a strong commander that is torn be
Katie Prouty
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"When will you Empire boys see that the path they push you down is not the path you must follow? When will you see that there is another option, if only you were willing to fight for it?"

A commander. A Solider. A rebel. Marcus, the Thirty-Seventh's legatus, has a budding reputation: Prodigy of Lescendor, the brightest mind, undefeatable, a strategic genius. He is forced to give Proconsul Plotius Grypus a strategy to conquer Hydrilla and stuck under the control of the older Legatus of the Twen
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With a lot of thanks to Danielle L Jensen whom provided me with an E-Arc edition of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have read the other two books of this series and I loved those. So when their was a posibility of me getting an e-arc for this book I took my change. And it did not dissapoint.

I loved how we got a look inside the world of Marcus before Dark Shores. And I really like it how sassy Danielle can make her characters. Also the amount of politics in this book is really nice
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tarnished Empire is a YA fantasy romance inspired by ancient Rome ( yep you heard me), featuring flaming romance, epic battles and lots of political intrigue!
Let me quickly explain the situation:

Winter is coming and with it war and bloodshed: a castle surrounded by legions under siege, an icy wind blowing through the legion camp, legionnaires dying one by one, innocent starving people, forbidden love, betrayal, heartbreak, treason, with the theme of camaraderie and loyalty in the center of it al
Cait | GoodeyReads
Thank you to the author, Danielle L. Jensen for an eARC!



Set in the Dark Shores world, this book about Marcus (and some new characters) is definitely worth the read. It’s especially recommended before Gilded Serpent (book three), but can be read at any time!

I loved this. So much. I love Marcus, and getting more of his background was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with the other characters too. AGRIPPA? Yes, please. He is a new ad
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First I would like to say a BIG thank you to Danielle Jensen for providing me an ARC in exchange for my honest review! Like everything Danielle has written I absolutely LOVED this book!!

Tarnished Empire is a novel that takes place in the world of Dark Shores. I'd suggest reading it after Dark Shores but you can totally read it before too! But you DEFINITELY need to read it before reading Gilded Serpent (book 3). This book provided so much insight into Marcus and those of the 37th!! I loved seein
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sent-by-author, arc
Review originally posted on My Bookish Escapades.


This book was SO. GOOD. I read it in one sitting, and short of the world ending, nothing could have pried me away from it.

Danielle Jensen definitely delivered. The first time I saw this book (MARCUS!!), I was already half obsessed. But after reading it? It was nothing short of AMAZING, and I honestly just want to read it again.

The best part about Tarnished Empire? (And I think no one would be surprised by now.) Marcus. Gorgeous
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She sang of the spirits and the forests, and how a strong soul would grow a tree that reached to the sky. She sang until his muscled shoulders stilled beneath her hands, until his breathing steadied against her throat, and only then allowed the last note to trail away. Then she pushed him upright and kissed his forehead. "For Yaro. May his tree grow to tower above all others."

The Dark Shores world that Danielle L. Jensen created is full of roman inspiration, nail biting war, a dash of fantas
Stephanie - Books Less Travelled
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

I keep seeing this series on bookstagram, and after hearing all the fuss about Marcus, and more recently Agrippa, for this newer release, I had to pick up this series! I can see why people love it, and I actually really enjoyed it, but would have to end up rating it more of a 3.5 stars overall for most of the book.

I really enjoyed the writing style and have to say I did end up with a new favorite character or two, but overall I felt this one promised much but failed to fu
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
strength didn't always come from standing alone

4.5 🌟
Wow, what an amazing prequel! I liked Marcus in Dark Shores but getting to know him better in this book, without Terianna, was amazing. Not to speak of Silvara and Agrippa who are both portrayed as deeply conflicted characters. They're torn about a lot that goes on in this book, as well as Marcus. You can feel that they're torn and Jensen won't let them find an easy way out of their dilemmas.
The story was thrilling, told from three differe
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Danielle L Jensen is one of those authors I always wonder HOW she is not more well known?

I love this series and this was no exception, we get introduced to a new member of Marcus' 37 legion and have appearances from our old favourites.

It's a prequel but I would highly advise you to read Dark shores First! Otherwise you just won't understand Marcus.

It is a novella but doesn't read like one (by that I mean the normal fluffy novella where nothing happens except they do some dull hobby/party/dinne
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's always tougher to write a review for a novella. I think this story could also be a good full-length novel, but I understand why Danielle chose to write this as a novella. Agrippa is the annoying handsome boy I would have totally been in love with as a teenager. Really curious how this story brings background to Gilded Serpent! ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was amazing 💔
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tarnished Empire is the prequel I didn’t know I needed but I did, I so did. There’s action, betrayal, politics, love and so much more. I love Agrippa there’s just something so endearing about him that I can’t get enough of. If anyone is keeping score I now love every hero of this series. I can’t wait to see what happens next especially with how this ended. I highly recommend this series. It’s awesome.

Copy provided by author
Nicole (FearYourEx)
5/5 stars

Thank you to the author for the free e-ARC!

I absolutely adore this series and the characters. I loved learning more about Marcus as he was paving his way. And more about how he ruled his legion. And I was also very interested in Agrippa and Silvara and I'm curious to see where or how they'll show up again in the future. The romance was believable and sweet. And the side characters all had excellent roles.

My favorite part of this series is that you can read Tarnished Empire, Dark Shores,
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so awesome. Well paced and well written. I love the world and the characters Danielle created! She makes you feel a range of emotions in her books and I love the way she writes beautifully flawed characters being thrown into difficult situations. This book follows Marcus and introduces us to two new characters one of which, I completely fell in love with. (Still #teammarcus though 😄) As for the other character, you will have to read and find out why this person is in the time out c ...more
This is going to be a short and sweet review. I got this book because I thought it was going to reveal all sorts of interesting things about Marcus ... stuff that was going to be important to upcoming events in the Dark Shores series. It turns out that there is some info about him ... stuff that explains some of the rumors about the military atrocities of his unit. But the majority of this story focuses on a member of his unit, Agrippa, and a laundress who is really a rebel spy, Silvara. At firs ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Trial of Sorcerers (A Trial of Sorcerers, #1)
  • House of Bastiion (The Haidren Legacy, #1)
  • Cast in Firelight (Wickery, #1)
  • Of Wicked Blood (The Quatrefoil Chronicles, #1)
  • The Bright & the Pale (The Bright & the Pale Duology, #1)
  • Blood and Promise (Fae Rising, #1)
  • The PAN (The PAN Trilogy, #1)
  • The Boyfriend Project (The Boyfriend Project, #1)
  • A Deal with the Elf King (Married to Magic, #1)
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)
  • Between Ink and Shadows (Between Ink and Shadows, #1)
  • The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)
  • The  Exchange (London Prep, #1)
  • The Stolen Kingdom
  • This Golden Flame
  • Twinfluence
  • The Song of the Marked (Shadows and Crowns, #1)
  • Hazel and Gray (Faraway Collection)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy (Angry Robot), the Dark Shores series (Tor Teen), and The Bridge Kingdom series (Audible Originals). She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family.

Other books in the series

Dark Shores (4 books)
  • Dark Shores (Dark Shores, #1)
  • Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)
  • Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores, #3)
  • Scorched Earth (Dark Shores, #4)

Related Articles

These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
143 likes · 62 comments